Growing Sprouts

By Corinne

I don’t remember what originally inspired me to grow my own sprouts, but it’s so easy and economical that I’m continually surprised it’s not more popular. Why should  you bother? Well, other than being simple and cheap, it’s also fun, and it seems like it would be a fun thing to do with kids. In terms of effort, its only a few seconds a day, and no matter how many times I’ve done it, I’m still amazed at the changes you see everyday. Once they are ready to eat, sprouts are a yummy addition to salads and wraps, or really anywhere where you might use lettuce.

In terms of nutritional benefits, it seems sprouts may have beneficial enzymes that are part of this early growth. If you do a little googling, there are a lot of claims about just how amazing sprouts are, however, I’m a little skeptical of some of them since few of the sites making these claims back them up with any sort of evidence, references, or studies. That being said,  a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is well established as being beneficial, and sprouts are a fun way to get a little more variation.

There are a few cautions though – it is important to source seeds that are meant for sprouting and raw consumption. Often seeds meant for planting in the garden are treated with fungicides and other things that you don’t want to be eating, or can even potentially be contaminated with salmonella. I order my seeds from Mumm’s, though there are certainly other reputable sites.  My favourite mixes of seeds I’ve tried so far are Spicy Lentil Crunch mix and Crunchy Bean mix.

Equipment

You can buy a special sprouting jar, tray or sprouting bag. But you really don’t need to. If you buy a sprouting jar it will come with a mesh top, but an elastic and piece of cheesecloth work just as well. I use a 1L jar (2 pint), you can use a smaller one, but ensure you reduce the amount of seeds you put in. A wide mouth jar would probably be a good idea, though I generally don’t have too much trouble getting them out of the one I use.

Process

The amount of time it takes to get your sprouts to edible form depends a bit on the type of seeds. Most packages will give you both instructions for sprouting and the number of days it will take to sprout. In general, many are about 5 days, though some seeds take less time, others take more. General directions and helpful hints below.

Step 1. Place 2 tbsp of sprouting seeds into a 1L jar. Cover top of jar with cheesecloth and secure with an elastic. Cover with water and allow to soak overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Step 2. Drain water and refill with cold water, swirling seeds around to rinse and drain again. If there are a lot of seeds stuck to the cheesecloth, just give them a little flick with your finger to knock them down. Sort of roll the seeds around in the jar so they aren’t all clumped up together- as seen in the middle photo below. Lay the jar on an angle and place it out of direct sunlight.

Step 3. Rinse and drain sprouts twice a day for the next 4-6 days, leaving jar at an angle between rinsing.  For the last day of sprouting you may wish to place the jar somewhere it will get sun for a few hours for the sprouts to green up.

Step 4. When your sprouts are ready for eating, take the cheese cloth off and rinse and discard the seed hulls. Depending on your jar, you may find it easier to put sprouts into a large bowl and skim the hulls off the top. You don’t need to worry about getting them all.

Step 5. Allow sprouts to dry for a few minutes on a clean cloth or piece of paper towel. They can be stored in a covered container with a piece of paper towel in the bottom. They are best if eaten sooner rather than later – I often plan to use them the day I know they will be ready, but they can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days.

As you can see in the above photo, 2 tbsp of seeds made a lot of sprouts, about 4 cups as they are really packed into that jar!  I probably could have let them grow for another day, but I wanted to use them in Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus.

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The photos above are all of the Spicy Lentil Crunch mix. Below are photos featuring the Crunchy Bean mix.

Avocado Lime Rice

By Corinne

Oh Avocados!

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As the cartoon implies, when you go to buy an avocado, it seems as though they are all either over ripe or hard as rocks. I generally buy them in a bag when the price is right, and of course, they all seem to ripen at exactly the same time, leaving me needing to use up 4-5 avocados in a short amount of time.

This rice is delicious in a wrap, or with Chipotle Pepper Beef.

Time: about 25 min – 5 min prep, 20 minutes cook

Serves: 4 as side

  • 1.5 cups rinsed brown rice
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup finely minced cilantro
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • juice of one lime (if your lime isn’t very juicy, feel free to use two)
  • half a minced jalapeño

Cook rice using your preferred method. I generally use a rice cooker, but just follow your usual method.

While rice is cooking, remove skin and seed from avocado. To do this, run a knife lengthwise along the avocado through the fruit around the seed. Twist halves apart, and use your knife to knock out the seed. I generally cross hatch it with my knife and then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, but since you are mashing it you can just take it out in one chunk if you like. Discard skin and seed and place flesh in a bowl. I was going to take photos of this process, but sometimes I don’t feel like re-creating the wheel so to speak. There is a lovely diagram of how to cut an avocado here as well as additional information about them.

Juice lime(s) over avocado. Mince about 1/4 cup fresh cilantro and mince or press clove of garlic. Add to avocado. Use a fork to mash together. Season with a pinch of salt.

When rice is cooked, mix together with mashed avocado mixture. Serve hot.

Creamy Vanilla Whisky

By Corinne

This makes a delightful drink that is creamy without cream, flavoured with vanilla and just a hint of coconut.

After I posted Homemade Irish Cream I had a request for a dairy free version. Now, when making things like this, whether it be gluten free, or dairy free, I don’t want the best part of the recipe to be the absence of the ingredient, but rather I like them to be delicious in their own right. For instance, I prefer the extra chewiness that the chana flour imparts to My Favourite Brownies, so I make them this way whether or not I’m making them for someone who is gluten intolerant.

This one is a little more effort than the Homemade Irish Cream, but if you’re looking for something dairy free, or just something a little different, it’s a win.

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Makes: about 4 1/2 cups or about 1L

Time: about 20 minutes to reduce coconut milk, + cooling time

You will need:

  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (2 x 398 mL) or 28oz
  • 2 1/2 cups (20oz) of Wiser’s Vanilla Whisky or other vanilla whisky
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, but regular will work)
  • 2 tbsp of chocolate syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

In saucepan or pot, pour contents of two cans of coconut milk and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about 1/3 or 8oz – this took about 20 minutes for me, but will depend on the surface area of your pan, if you are using a pan or pot with larger surface area, it will take less time, if you are using a regular pot, it will take longer. If you skip this step it will result in a rather watery end product.

Once reduced, remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Add 2 1/2 cups vanilla whiskey, 2 tbsp chocolate syrup and 1/4 tsp of almond extract to the cooled coconut milk. Whisk together until blended and pour into a container. Keep refrigerated for at least a month- though it’s probably good for much longer but my bottle ends up mysteriously empty sooner. Shake well after being refrigerated.

Enjoy on the rocks or added to coffee.

 

 

 

Homemade Veggie Bouillon

imageBy: Corinne

This veggie bouillon is my ‘secret’ ingredient, and one of my favourite things. I never buy chicken stock or any of those bouillon cubes. In addition to using it as an addition to soups and stews, risotto and pastas, I also love to rub a few tbsp into a roast before cooking.

It’s versatile and forgiving. I also love that you can control the saltiness of it. Warning though, the less salt you add, the harder it will get in the freezer. I suppose you could make it with no salt at all and freeze it in tbsp portions, though I’ve never tried that.

Inspired by http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/homemade-bouillon-recipe.html. My version uses considerably more veggies and considerably less salt. While initially it might seem like a lot of money on the produce, if you regularly buy chicken stock you very quickly are saving money (and adding flavour!) using this instead.

You Will Need:

  • 2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1 large carrot (I used 4 little skinny ones, you want about 1 cup after you’ve processed it) peeled or unpeeled whatever your preferance
  • 3 large leeks, white part only, rinsed if they are gritty
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, skins removed
  • 1 small fennel bulb, or about half a large one, core removed (you want about 1 cup after processing)
  • 1 small/medium celriac, peeled(if you can’t find it, you can substitute 3-4 stalks of celery)
  • 6-8 sundried tomatoes, preferably not the ones in oil, but they will work if that’s all you can find
  • ¾ cup of coarse sea salt

Find yourself a large bowl. Process ingredients one at a time in a food processor. I usually do the tomatoes and the garlic together as they require a little more time. You want everything to be in fine pieces, but not totally pulverized into paste- see in the picture how you can still see bits?

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Sprinkle the salt over the top about ¼ cup at a time, thoroughly mixing between additions.

To use, add 1/2 to 1 tbsp (or more if you like, that’s just what I use) to one cup of hot water to replace one cup of store bought stock. This recipe makes quite a bit, however, it keeps at least a year in the freezer. I also have a few friends who request a portion whenever I make it, so I find myself making it a few times a year.